Riftrunners, Book 1
Harper Voyager (2011)
Reviewed by Mitenae
The Undivided is the latest offering in a new series from fantasy author Jennifer Fallon. It tells the tale of Darragh and Rónán, psychically linked twins who have been separated since they were young.
Rónán, now known as Ren, grows up in Dublin, the adopted son of actress Kiva Kavanaugh. He wakes up one night with a mysterious cut caused through no fault of his own, again, yet no one believes him. Darragh grows up in a world of magic, one that was never taken over by the Romans, well aware that his brother is missing and that together they are the Undivided. While others plot to end a two thousand year old treaty, Darragh searches for his brother in order to bring him back to Eire (Ireland) and reunite the Undivided.
It took a while for me to warm to this book and it was only several chapters in, once Ren’s story was underway, that I began to enjoy it. I found the lack of timeframe in the initial chapters annoying, especially due to the use of the name Amergin, which I know to be the name of poets from Irish mythology. For me, the story could have done with including the dates at the beginning of these initial set up chapters to help understand that it is the present rather than a thousand or more years ago. There is a timeline, but it’s in the back of the book and provided no real reference until I had some knowledge of what is happening in the story.
I was also disappointed that there wasn’t more of a sense of place. Initially, I didn’t know where Ren lived. The suburb, as described, could be anywhere from Peppermint Grove to Toorak, not Dublin. In the same vein, I didn’t get enough of a sense of Ren’s Irishness, despite how well written the characters and story were. I wanted to see more specific references to place, types of trees and more specifically what the landscape looked like and how it felt to live in it, because for me this story could have been set anywhere in the world with the Celtic mythology added on.
Celtic mythology has been well used, but it is a very contemporary version of it and Druidism, and the Faeries, in the form of Sidhe (pronounced Shee), are seen through a very nineteenth century lens. Given that I have spent some time researching both, I found that I had to set my understanding and knowledge of both aside in order to enjoy this story.
Overall this novel is not amongst my favourites of Fallon’s work but it is a story I enjoyed and read over a few nights. I look forward to seeing what happens in the rest of the series.